August was a nice busy month. Early in the month we harvested another big crop of basil leaves and got to making some pesto. There was no real recipe involved; it was done by eye and feel. Pine nuts were put into a measuring jug and bashed up somewhat with the end of the rolling pin. Lots of torn up basil was added and a tonne of grated parmesan (about the same amount as the pine nuts) thrown on top. Finally it was topped up with olive oil and blitzed using the hand blender, because that is the only blender we have. We added a little more oil until the consistency seemed correct then ate some with pasta and popped the rest in a jar in the fridge with some olive oil over the top of it. Yum yum! The only shame was that the pesto in the fridge went mouldy before we got back to eating it. Supermarket pesto has a much longer shelf life, that was a real waste. I have now been tipped off by an Italian friend that we can freeze it in ice cube trays to prolong its life next time.
I did plenty of reading in August and absolutely devoured You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail (a birthday gift from my very generous brother). I love her blog and found the book thoroughly enjoyable and very inspiring. The tone was just right for me and the illustrations were really cute. It is definitely a good book for every girl who has even a flicker of interest in growing plants. I immediately wanted to get outside and get to work with all the veggies. By now the vegetables had mostly recovered from the trauma of the move, some tomatoes were taking on a red hue, more and more flowers on the beans were slowly turning into tiny little French bean pods, and we were starting to get some courgettes too. Most the herbs were also in flower, which means we accidentally missed the harvest season for them. whoops!
By mid-August the problem of no compost was becoming more significant. How do two urban gardeners, with no car, acquire a sack of compost in the middle of a city? Well, there is an answer to this conundrum. We took the bus to a large B&Q a couple of kilometres from our flat. We surveyed the shop and bought some seeds, containers, a lavender plant and a few other bits. Then later the same afternoon we borrowed a sack truck from our building. This is one of those two wheeled trolley used for moving heavy objects around. We wheeled it to the bus and headed off to B&Q again. Surprisingly enough the security guard seemed unfazed by us bringing our own trolley and was happy to let us bring it inside the shop. As we now had the truck with us we decided to take two bags of compost, two of the biggest bags in the shop; 120litres each! This was probably a mad folly, but the effort of taking a sack truck all the way to the shop was just too much to be repeated at regular intervals. So we staggered back to the bus stop, carefully lifted 240litres of compost plus truck on to the bus and headed off home!
Armed with new supplies of soil and pots we immediately got out to the terrace to see what could be done. The strawberries have been sending off runners for months so Adam got to work potting most the runners in any containers he could find; small pots, finished butter tubs, half plastic bottles, re-cycled supermarket packaging.
By now the courgettes were suffering from an attack of powdery mildew so we started a routine of spraying the leaves twice a day with a mixture of milk and water. This seemed to work after a few days and we continued to get a few fruits, although they took longer to ripen than before.
I had intended to plant potatoes at the end of August in the hope of having some fresh new potatoes by Christmas. It turns out that it is extremely difficult to buy seed potatoes at this time of year and after a week trawling the internet I finally got desperate and decided to have a go at chitting my own potatoes. We had recently bought some new potatoes, of unspecified name, from the supermarket so I chose a few which were past their best and lined them up in an egg tray. I added a chopped shallot as I remember reading once that onion fumes can encourage potatoes to sprout. I put them in a dark place until I read that I should put them in a sunny place so they were moved! They are still chitting away and have a few sprouts.
Finally, in the last days of the month, we finalised the cleaning of the garden. There were some pots on the terrace when we moved in, mostly with dying plants in them and a few fake olive trees. On close inspection one of the very brown shrubs turned out to be a rosemary bush. It was in bad shape but I transplanted it to a larger pot and added plenty of compost to help it recover. There were some troughs with no plants in them so I added fresh compost to these and sowed turnip, beetroot and pak choi. Hopefully we will get some autumn crops from them. There were some pieces of broken pots in the bottom of them which I left in place as the troughs have no drainage holes. Fingers crossed that they get sufficient drainage. In addition to those somewhat appropriate crops for Autumn sowing I decided to chance a pot with two peas in it and a pot full of chives. Who knows, maybe they will work! I also filled up two indoor troughs with compost and sowed sprouting peas, rocket, radish and spinach on an inside windowsill.
I feel all set for the Autumn now and the garden is looking lovely and tidy too!